I Left the Island (of Manhattan)

Last week, during our beautiful fake summer weather, I had to travel to Astoria for work. Astoria, which is in Queens. I’m afraid I’m becoming a Manhattan snob, which is NOT ok. No one likes a snob. But when I’m faced with the prospect of going to an outer borough I find I want to curl up in a ball on my little couch and stay in my Upper East Side bubble. I’m suddenly crippled and have to stare at a map of the subway system for much longer than necessary and ask “So wait…this part is Brooklyn, right? And over there is Queens?” Visions of being in a train underwater flood my head. Bottom line, I need to get out more.

So with my memorized train schedule, off I went! Google maps said it would take me 40 minutes, so I left over an hour early. I still didn’t trust myself to get there on time. After triple checking the subway map, I was pretty certain I was going to the end of the line. As in, where the subway ends. As in, I always wonder who goes to the stops at the end of the line allll the way off the island while I ride my 4 stops to work. There’s no way it would only take 40 minutes to go to the end of the line.

Once we emerged on the other side of the East River, the subway car got less and less crowded. I was able to sit and read my kindle! That never happens! And the sun was shining and I could see it. I suppose that’s the beauty of being above ground. It was all very novel for me. Give a point to the above-ground subway!

Let’s just say that when I reached the end of the line – right on time – there was much more culture than in my neighborhood. As I was walking to the Starbucks on the corner, the brakes of the train overhead shrieked and scared me half to death. Strike against the above-ground subway.

I met my co-worker and we headed to lunch at this delicious restaurant called Mojave. If you live in Queens and haven’t been, I suggest you try it. If you don’t live in Queens and want to go to a restaurant with room to stretch out and a lovely patio that could be straight from a restaurant in Arizona, I suggest you go!

We had margarita “tastes” with our lunch. The left was blueberry and the right (mine) is blood orange. It was amazing. This was my first margarita of the season! This a big deal folks. And with that one sip, I immediately remembered why I love love love margaritas. They taste like the best parts of summer all rolled into one incredible drink. It was absolutely lovely.

After lunch we walked to our meeting for work. More on that later, but hint: it involves more origami pigs. And what do you know, four hours later, work time was over and I found myself sitting in front of this beauty.

Hello Mr. Full Size Blood Orange Margarita. Mmmm.

All in all, I have to say Astoria gave me a pretty warm welcome. And a pretty view of the city at sunset on our ride home. I’m not ready to change zip codes, but I’m far less intimidated, for sure.

New York Morning Sunrise

Believe it or not, I am still running on a pretty regular basis!  To those that know me, my response to exercise is usually to laugh and say “Yeah, I try to avoid that.”  But having a running partner, the threat of spring dresses and summer bathing suits, not to mention being Matron of Honor in a strapless dress for my BFF in less than three weeks…well, I’m a bit more motivated to get out of bed.  Even if it is before the sun comes up.

A few weeks back, we found ourselves face to face with a barricade telling us that the loop we usually run around the Jackie O Reservoir in Central Park was closed for repairs.  So we stood around in shock for a minute before regrouping and deciding to run in the Carl Schurz Park along the East River.  It’s been a nice change of pace.

Here’s this morning’s sunrise.

We had incredibly beautiful weather over the past two weeks.  Trees have started to bloom and the daffodils and even some tulips have sprung up all over the city.  But then BAM – we are back to 30 degree weather in the morning!  It’s been a rough couple of mornings – for me and for the flowers, I imagine.

And for The Prince.  They finally turned the heat off in our apartments when it hit almost 80 degrees.  And now they have not turned it back on despite weather in the low 30s.  Much to The Prince’s dismay.  I’ve never seen him cuddled into such a perfect circle before.

“Mom, no pictures, please.  I need at least 16 more hours of beauty rest.”

Here’s hoping we have warmer weather again soon – for good!

Movie Review Time…The Hunger Games Edition

Like many others, I went to see The Hunger Games this weekend.  I was a little late to the game, so I read the books very recently so I didn’t have to wait long to see the movie.  I got the hubby to agree to go with me, pre-ordered the tickets and enticed him further with the promise to go to Shake Shack for lunch before our matinee.  I never fail to groan and complain at the length of the line extending outside Shake Shack, but it is always well worth it.  And it does move quickly.  It takes awhile to get your food, but at least you are sitting and chatting by that point, rather than in line.  This was our first time getting the cheese fries.  I have to say, I’m going back to original fries from now on.

But back to The Hunger Games!  All in all, I left a little bit underwhelmed.  If you’ve read the books, you know that the books are rather violent.  I believe they are actually young adult books, so I suppose the PG-13 rating makes sense to get the target audience in the doors.  I’m not a huge fan of violence in movies in general.  However.  This is The Hunger Games – it is based upon a huge fight to the death.  Once the movie got to that part the cameras were either thisclose to the action so that you got dizzy and couldn’t tell what was really happening, or were extremely far away.

To play the devil’s advocate – there was a little boy that was about 12 years old sitting next to us, all by himself.  And he was audibly gasping at the violent scenes and even said “What is wrong with that guy!?” at one point.  So perhaps the movie makers know a thing or two about their audience.

I was also disappointed by the details they left out.  Without fail, I always like a book more than the corresponding movie.  There is just so much more depth to a book.  So I’m used to a certain degree of disappointment.  And Scott is getting used to hearing me explain everything that was left out.  But I felt that The Hunger Games didn’t try to explain any of the inner thoughts of the lead character – which was how the majority of the book was narrated.

With that being said, I felt that on the whole, the movie was cast very well.  All of the characters, except Peeta, were exactly as I’d imagined them.  The sets and costumes were also incredible.  They did a great job of capturing the desperation of District 12 and the extreme wealth and ridiculousness of the Capitol.

On the other side of the spectrum, Scott had not read the books so he was a relatively unbiased viewer.  He enjoyed the movie and said he would go back to see the next one with me.   Which, of course, I will go see, regardless of my less-than-positive review.  Sigh.  I’m a sucker for big movie hype.

Did anyone else see The Hunger Games?  Did you like it?  Anyone else think Peeta needed to gain a few inches?  Just me?

Happy Monday!

Virginia

As I said yesterday, I had a lovely, long weekend in Virginia.  I was originally going down for my best friend’s bridal shower and it was great luck that my dear friend, Shelbie, had her baby shower the same weekend!

I went home on Friday and made my way to Lauren’s house.  We quickly reverted back to 16 year old girls having giggle fits in the drive thru at Wendy’s and making a longer-than-expected pit stop at Target.  Oh, how I have missed Target!

Saturday, I got behind the wheel for the first time since October.  I was definitely nervous, but it truly was like riding a bike.  I kind of loved being back in the car singing along to the radio.  Something about the subway just doesn’t encourage me to express myself with Madonna and belt it out with Mariah.

Virginia was in full bloom and the weather was gorgeous all weekend.

My gift for Shelbie’s sweet baby girl.

Here we are!  Isn’t she a beautiful mom-to-be?

After Shelbie’s shower, I headed back home for some sweet time with all of the women in town for Lauren’s bridal shower.  Lauren had her had mom, future mother-in-law, grandma, godmother, godsister, second-mothers, best friends, aunts and a surrogate little sister (aka my sister) there.  And that wasn’t even the actual shower!  She’s very loved 🙂

Enjoying the warm weather.

Oh and our faithful mascot, Dexter.

After soaking up the sun, we all pitched in on wedding crafts.

Then the big day finally arrived…Bridal Shower Sunday!  As the Matron of Honor, I was one of the planners so I was a bit anxious for everything to go well and for Lauren (and the guests) to enjoy themselves.

We did the arrangements ourselves.  We wanted them to look like a bouquet you could have picked yourself and then put in a mason jar when you got home.  Nothing too formal.  I think they looked beautiful and no two arrangements were identical.

Here are our favors – a recipe for shrimp ‘n’ grits with the grits included.  We thought it would fit the feeling of the barbecue luncheon and mason jar bouquets…oh yes, and our signature drink, Bourbon Sweet Tea.  Which was delicious by the way.

We also made a scrapbook for Lauren.  Everyone wrote Lauren a note on half of a page.

Why yes, those are polaroids!  Jessie (the other Maid of Honor) was able to produce a modern-day polaroid.  It was huge.

Me with the bride-to-be.  Clutching our bourbon sweet teas for dear life.

Lauren and her Matron and Maid of Honor.

Everyone looked so nice in their spring dresses.

Playing games (matching married celebrity couples, in case you’re interested).

Winners!

Present time!

Our scribe – Mary, the sister of the groom.  I think these two get along. 🙂

I don’t know why we are looking at each other that way.  But I think there are countless similar photos from over the years.  Ah, friends.  Here we are playing a game in which Lauren had to guess how her fiancé answered numerous questions.  Hugh was a great sport and provided wonderful, funny answers that always got an “aww” or a laugh from the ladies.

Listen up, all you moms of daughters out there, because you’re going to want to stow this idea away.  Lauren’s mom took her American Girl doll, Felicity, to the American Girl doll store to be completely made up as a bride.  Her hair was done up in a chignon and she had a bridal gown and veil on – complete with a little something blue!  Lauren was completely surprised and we all got a little teary.  Even me and I don’t typically cry very easily.  Especially if I am in “event mode.”   But Lauren and I used to have tea parties with our American Girl dolls (I had Kirsten but secretly wanted Samantha) and it was so sentimental and sweet.

It was a great idea and I would encourage moms out there to consider it for your daughters!

Lauren’s lovely ribbon bouquet for the rehearsal.  That’s my hand in the background giving some sort of direction.  Geez.

Here’s the entire bridal party (minus the men, of course) and our moms.  We were all at the shower!  Thanks to Kay for suggesting we get a picture of it!

I definitely consider the shower a success.  Lauren now officially has an incredibly stocked kitchen which I know she will put to good use.  There was good food (I didn’t take any photos because I was ravenous) and good times with some wonderful women.  And we got to celebrate our sweet Lauren, which is really the point of it all.  I hope she enjoyed it and felt as loved as she is.

Next up: the wedding!!

Babies, Brides and Showers…Oh My!

I got home yesterday from a baby and bridal shower-filled weekend in Virginia.  I had the best time.  I got to see and do all of the things that I can’t do in New York.  I got to drive, see family and friends, enjoy wide open spaces and go to TARGET!

I’ll be back tomorrow with all of the details.  When I got home yesterday I was buried by an avalanche of laundry.

Here’s a sneak peak!

 

St. Paddy’s Day!!!

Good morning and Happy Monday!  When I was asking Rebecca what I should post about she first suggested my week in Toronto for work.   I decided that if I told one ravishing story about 14 hours a day in an audit room Rebecca would lose half her readers, St Patrick’s Day in NYC seems so much better!

The first question is who is Saint Patrick?  From an exhaustive search of the internet (Wikipedia) St. Patrick was a Christian missionary to Ireland.  He was not actually Irish but believed to be Welch, captured by Irish-Druid raiders in his youth and taken as a slave to Ireland.  He was able to return back home after six years of servitude but after a few years he had a vision that he was given a letter with the header “The Voice of the Irish”.

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(Man of the hour)

A legendary tale of St. Patrick is that he drove all of the snakes from Ireland into the sea.  Research has shown that snakes did not live in Ireland at that point in time or since then but the snakes were a representation for pagan Druids.  Due to his unique knowledge, gained as a slave, of the Druids he was able to spread the Gospel of Christ to the Irish people.

The celebration of Saint Patrick in New York City pre-dates our country.  The first parade was in 1762 put on by a band of Irish ex-pats and Irish military members serving in the British military.

This past Saturday was the 251st parade in the city.  The parade ran from 44th street up to 86th street along 5th avenue.  Since we live on 83rd street I decided to take a stroll over to see what one of the oldest traditions in America was all about.

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On my walk over I passed several establishments that sell adult beverages and at 1:30 in the afternoon the crowds were falling out the door!  There were a lot of grins passing me on the street.

As I hit the parade route I ended up in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The large columns made for a great backdrop.  This parade is that it is bares very little resemblance to other New York traditions like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.   The parade does not allow any floats or balloon s; it is only marchers, an estimated 200,000 of them!Image

(St. Patrick’s Cathedral)

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Walking along the streets I felt proud to be Irish.  To watch the step dancers and to hear the whimsical music of bag pipes filling the air brought me back to when my family travelled to Ireland about 15 years ago.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday with the sun on my face.

So “Erin Go Bragh” (Ireland Forever) and have a great week!

– Scott

Calling All Book Lovers!

Look what I got!

I have always loved reading, thanks to my mom.  I am also one of those people that actually goes to the library and used book stores (also something I learned from mom).  I hate paying full price for books, especially ones you know will be a one-time read.

So when we moved to New York, I got a New York Public Library card and started going there.  Well the branch in our neighborhood is quite small.  I went in armed with  a list full of books I wanted…and they did not have ONE of them.  So I picked at random.  Then I got a job and officially have to be at work during the only hours the library is open.  So it became impossible to return my books on time.

At one point, I never thought I would go for an eReader.  But it started to look like a pretty darn good solution.  Especially since I will be traveling for my job and I finish one book per flight.  It gets heavy carrying multiple books in a carry on and one little Kindle was starting to sound pretty sweet.

So I took the plunge and yesterday, my Kindle arrived.  So now, I would love some book suggestions!  (Yes, I’ve read The Hunger Games)  Any other book lovers out there?

And if you are on the fence about real books vs. an eReader – I’ll be back with a review after I read a few books on it.

Happy Thursday!